News flash: Iowa taxpayers paid for some ‘ridiculous’ film expenses

February 11th, 2011 by Joe Kristan

As bad as the seemingly-incriminating e-mail introduced at trial Wednesday was for Wendy Weiner Runge’s defense, things may have gotten worse yesterday. A witness who rented supplies to Ms. Runge’s film company testified that the amounts claimed as expenses in her applications for transferable film credits were “ridiculous,” reports the Des Moines Register:

The expenses claimed by a Minnesota filmmaker and her partners to obtain more than $1.85 million of Iowa’s once-generous tax credits for filmmaking were “extraordinarily high” and “ridiculous,” an expert witness testified Thursday.
“People I know who have worked on much larger pictures than I have never received this much money,” said Michael Handley, who has owned a camera and grip rental company in Minneapolis for 12 years.

The Register’s Lee Rood reports that it may not be going well for the defense:

But several observers in the courtroom, who included the head of Iowa’s Motion Picture Association, said Thursday’s testimony may have been the most damning so far for a woman who professed to know nothing about expenses.

As bad as things look for the defense, the testimony is also making some other folks look pretty bad:
– The Iowa Film Office, which approved these “ridiculous” expenses;
– The Iowa Department of Economic Development, which oversees the film office;
– The Iowa Department of Revenue, which oversaw the credits,
– Governor Culver, who signed the film credit into law, and who appointed all of the folks who oversaw the credits, and
– The 140 or so legislators who voted this ridiculous credit into law.
The only people in state government who didn’t embarass themselves in the film program: Rep. Bruce Hunter and Sens. Herman Quirmbach and David Hartsuch, the only three legislators, out of 150, who voted “no” when the program was enacted.
The complete list of media outlets that opposed the legislation:
.
With at least one exception.
Related: Smartmoney.com: Lights, Camera, Tax Scandal: Iowa Trial Begins

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